A wholesale fashion line sheet is an essential sales tool for every brand. No matter how small or large, a line sheet must be presented to buyers if they are to be taken seriously.
As a fashion start-up, you may well be considering the wholesale route to marketing your designs. It’s a valid proposition to want to see your range stocked in brick and mortar shops, and a goal that you should pursue. To achieve this you’ll need to approach stores’ buying teams in order to build wholesale accounts, and they should be approached professionally. Once you have secured an appointment they will expect you to have all of your selling documents to hand, such as lookbooks, order forms and most importantly your fashion wholesale line sheet.
You may well ask, what is a wholesale fashion line sheet?
Simply put, a line sheet is a sales tool designed to visually communicate all of the information necessary for a buyer to make a decision about purchasing your collection.
It will include vital information about your collection that makes the buying process seamless.
It’s a no-frills document that’s meant to answer questions at a glance. Whether you’re targeting large retailers or smaller boutiques, the essential elements on your line sheet stay the same.
While there is no one right way to create your line sheet, there are some important key elements that every designer must include.
What does a Fashion Linesheet contain?
1. Brief Brand Introduction
As with any sales document that is given to new prospective buyers, it is important to start your pack with a cover sheet. A landscape format works best for this type of document.
This is basically a one-page document that reminds the buyer who your brand is.
The one page should be simple, yet strong visually and copy-wise.
Start by inserting an image that represents your brand or evokes the mood of the seasonal collection you’re selling. Or if you want to keep it even simpler, a brand logo would also work.
Below it, write a short paragraph about who your brand is and what your collection is about.
This only needs to be short and serve the purpose of reminding a buyer who may be looking through your line sheet days and weeks mater of who you are and why they took a copy of your line sheet with them.
2. General Wholesale Fashion Line Sheet Information
Create a template form that includes all of the pertinent information. This can be done in Excel or Google Doc sheet. Simply create a template similar to the example shown below or tweak as per your taste.
In today’s tech advanced age we live in, naturally, there are online alternatives. One example would be BrandBoom – an online wholesale platform that offers free line sheet creation tool.
Another alternative would be the CatalogMachine – an easy tool that allows you to create and host in cloud your line sheets, print them to PDF and share digitally.
Regardless of the method you choose, the information you need to have on hand remains the same.
Your business name and contact information should be present on every page of the line sheet. The business name should be displayed, in your chosen branding, so that it’s immediately identifiable to the buyer.
Include your name and all contact information such as your studio/business address and telephone numbers, landline and mobile.
You could include your brand’s story in a few sentences and your tagline, as these details personalise your line sheet and make it more memorable.
3. Product Line
a) Photographs of each item
It is extremely important that the product images you include here, bear an exact resemblance to the product you are selling. While some brands create line sheets with well executed flat drawings, a photo of the product is preferable.
Related reading: Fashion Photography Basics
The photos should be in full-colour and be either on a model or shot as flats against a plain white background.
Show the front and back of the garment especially if the back has an unusual feature.
Avoid using editorial style images, as these should be saved for your lookbook.
b) Item name and number
Style numbers and product descriptions are a crucial piece of the puzzle for buyers to identify which styles they want to purchase.
Assigning a style number to each design is essential for everyone involved in your supply chain.
You will need a unique identification number to ID each piece.
Keep style numbers simple and use a maximum of 5 digits per style. To organize your numbering system, try coding by categories. It’s usual to start with the season followed by the year. You could then add an abbreviated name for the design based on your inspiration for the collection, for example.
You should also include a style description which should be brief and should reference the key elements of your design.
Avoid using extremely creative names for particular styles. Use something short and to-the-point.
Or create a methodology of naming your products that would be memorable and easy to write and pronounce. For example a famous British shoe designer names all his shoe styles after flower names.
Whatever you choose to do, stick to it and keep it simple.
c) Purchasing options
Convey clearly what options the buyers have available for purchasing a particular style.
In terms of apparel, this will include the size range. Something like “XS-L” or “6-12” works just fine.
You will also want to let the potential buyers know if this particular item is available in different colours. On your wholesale fashion line sheet, you can either use product photography to showcase colour or create colour blocks by scanning the fabric cuttings and use Photoshop or similar program to create image files. Add those images to your line sheet to emphasise the different options. Remember that the clearer your visuals are, the less guesswork is involved.
The range of sizes
Each style must have sizing information. Even if this is the same for all styles, it is best to repeat it for every image so it is easily accessible and seen to the buyer.
The size range you choose should be based on your target market customer.
If for example, you have based your fit on a younger demographic your sizing will be at the smaller end of the spectrum.
Available colours / Colourways
The colour selection will be based on the colour choices you have made during the design and development process. It is best that you show these with small squares of colour, or attach small swatches of the actual fabric or list the colour names.
As with the Product ID – it is best that you give your colours a name that is easily visualised. Avoid using fancy names and giving colourways numbers as that may be confusing to the buyer and be an obstacle that may get in the way of making the final order.
d) Wholesale price
List your wholesale price on the line sheet; you may also show the suggested retail price (SRP or also known as Recommended Retail Price RRP), but keep in mind that including the retail price is not common practice in North America.
There are several ways to list selling prices.
A simple “£50/£100” format may work for you.
You can also spell it out and say “Wholesale: £50 (your currency) and Suggested Retail: £100 (your currency).”
Determine what works best for your audience. Before listing prices on your wholesale fashion line sheet, finalize your costing!
Make sure your fabric and trim prices, yields, cut and sew and shipping estimates are confirmed and updated on your cost sheets.
Once you list the price, you need to be confident that you’re going to make a profit selling at wholesale at that price point.
Remember that you can’t change the prices after you have seen the buyer and they have taken the line sheet away with them.
As we are all now participants in a global market and reaching international customers is no longer an issue thanks to online shopping, listing your prices in multiple currencies is a must. Unless you are quite clear that you are only selling locally or commit to selling in a single currency regardless of the buyer’s locality.
If you are dealing with multiple currencies, it would be a good idea to add a note that the listed prices are valid for a certain period of time, due to the fluctuating rates of exchange.
4. Order form
Including an order form with your line sheet is very important. It is a vital part of the wholesale fashion line sheet.
It should include sections for the buyer’s name, address, contact details and Tax Code.
A section for the date the order is placed on is also required, along with the season to which the order refers.
All of the product information such as product style, product quantity, size range, the full selection of available colours and different materials.
Sections for the delivery date, method of delivery and payment should also be clearly defined.
Your Sales Terms & Conditions need to be set out in full. Your T&C include your terms pertaining to Orders, Deliveries, Shipping, Payment, Payment Problems and Conflicts.
By referencing this information you will be protected should anything go wrong with your order.
It can be incorporated into the line sheet by printing it on the back of the paper, but with so much information to include it would be wise to create the order form separately.
5. Trading Terms
It is vitally important that you make it very clear to buyers what your trading terms are. This makes it clear at the time of buy consideration and avoids problems and costly cancellations later down the line.
Some of the most important areas to cover are as per below:
a) Minimum order quantities (MOQ)
The minimum order quantity can be stated as a currency amount, or the number of items per style, or a combination of both.
If you are a start-up, it’s important that you get this right.
Without a selling track record, you may find that your first order is smaller than the required factory production units.
You could also consider a tiered pricing that takes into account the number of units each shop orders.
MOQs usually are in place to ensure that production minimums are met and a style can go ahead and be put into production; to ensure buyers don’t place individual “personal” orders that never make it to the shop floor or to ensure a well-balanced representation of the brand in any shop that places a buy.
b) Accepting payment
What are your payment terms?
As a start-up, it’s common to ask for “Pro-Forma,” which translates to part or whole payment up front.
Depending on what you ask for, some stores will accept this, but others may be offended.
Some larger stores are sympathetic to the cashflow ailments that start-ups or small to medium brands experience so they may be persuaded to pay up to 50% deposit with the remaining paid prior or on delivery.
However, they will potentially expect a discount for this concession.
It is also widely accepted to ask for a deposit from a store that has been trading for less than a year.
Younger brands and new retailers cannot avoid the “payment in advance” terms. As with many areas in life, age and reputation often have the upper hand in negotiations.
Independent stores’ terms vary from pre-payment, CoD (cash on delivery) to 30 days.
It’s best to establish terms that don’t put you at risk.
Credit card payments are also worth investigating, and this can be set up through Braintree (Paypal for business).
c) Lead times
How quickly will you be able to deliver your goods once the order has been placed?
It’s a good idea to talk to your fabric suppliers and manufacturers in the first instance before you make any decisions.
Once you have all the information from them regarding production timing, you can set realistic delivery times prior to showing your collection to the buyers.
It’s usual to allow for three full months for production.
d) Order Cut-off Cate /Cancellation Date
This is really important as it tells the buyer that you mean business.
The cut-off date for accepting orders from your buyers allows them enough time to work out what they want but not indefinitely so that you cannot close the book and commit to your production.
It also allows you the time to order your materials and other components so that you’re able to keep to your production schedule.
The selling period is usually one to two months, but be sure to include the last date on which a buyer can place an order for that particular season.
Equally important is to clearly mark your order cancellation date. That means a date by which should anything unforeseen was to happen, the buyer can cancel the order without losing their pre-payment or without incurring a penalty.
Failure to include either of these dates can result in costly and stressful moments.
e) Shipping policy
Are you or the buyer responsible for the shipping costs?
There are two terms you need to be aware of:
- “FoB” means that you will cover the cost of transportation of the goods to the shipment port, including the loading costs. The buyer will pay for the delivery of the goods from the shipment port.
- The other option is called “Landed/Ex-Works,” which is more commonly used across Europe.
Usually, it is the buyer who is responsible for all of the shipping costs.
These will include the original product cost as well as Customs charges, duties, taxes, insurance, currency conversion, crating, handling and payment fees.
Some overseas buyers will have designated companies they use for shipping and handling this highly complex at time paperwork.
If they don’t it is up to you to shop around for a competitive one.
f) Return Policy
Do you accept returns for any reasons other than damage?
Unless you have an alternative buyer prepared to take the goods it is best to avoid offering returns other than for damage sustained during shipping.
However, if you do, then be sure to state how much time the buyer has to return items after the delivery date.
To avoid misunderstandings and future problems, date the line sheet and ensure that you stipulate an end date to the validity of all the information contained within it.
A line sheet is an essential sales tool for anyone in the industry who wants to be taken seriously. Often great collections get less or no orders because the designers underestimated the importance of this working document.
Creating wholesale fashion line sheets can be tedious – granted! There is so much information to include on the wholesale fashion line sheet, that it can be overwhelming to think about creating one season after season. Creating a template and gathering all the visuals and information in advance of the line sheet creation, makes the whole exercise of the creation of the sheet more manageable.
As competition between brands is fierce and the number of great shops to be in limited, those who have strong collections as well as make it easy for the buyer to place an order will be the ultimate winner.
If you have any questions about this article or general feedback then please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below.
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